The Anglican Church of Kenya responded to recurring violence between Kipsigis and Maasai people in the Trans Mara district by launching a peace-building project to bring the two sides together. In July, the province’s social ministry arm, Anglican Development Services (ADS-Kenya), invited representatives of national and county governments to share ideas on the root causes of the violence among the two communities, and to discuss how to engage in sustainable peacebuilding.
In September, the killing of Ben Meronyi, a Maasai businessman, led to retaliatory kilings in which 11 people from the Kipsigis community were murdered. This brought tension and fear in many market centres along the Maasai-Kipsigis border like Esoit – an area where locals now close shops as early as 6 pm and leave the centre due to insecurity.
In a bid to reduce tensions, ADS-Kenya and the Transmara Archdeaconry of Kericho Diocese organised several community dialogues to address issues of contention. These include the Nyayo grazing lands and the “no man’s land” between the two communities.
During these meetings, community members shared their concerns with government authorities and the church.
The Church’s work has been recognised by the national government. The two deputy county commissioners in Trans Mara East and Trans Mara West see the Church as an important partner in mobilising community members to work for sustainable peace through community dialogues and forums.
Action points that are generated from the meetings are pursued by all the key stakeholders working in the area.
“In our approach to peace-building among the Maasai and Kipsigis of Trans Mara, we seek to emphasise the complementarity and inter-dependence between the two communities,” ADS-Kenya said. “The church has sought to explore how trade and inter-marriages can be used as an avenue for inter-communal interaction and sharing of resources.
“The Church further seeks to facilitate the building of inter-communal resource sharing and dispute resolution structures. Recently, It was proposed that the two communities appoint their own peace-building committees to enable the discussion and quick resolution of disputes that arise along the common border.
“These committees comprise of women, men and youth who are chosen or nominated by community members and mandated to spearhead inter-communal discussions on land and boundaries. We believe that this will enable sustainable peace-building among the Maasai and Kipsigis of the Trans Mara region.”